The Fourth Wall
by Elizabeth Maria Naranjo
In this YA novel, dreams and reality collide. Fifteen-year old Marin exists under a grief so heavy after her mother’s death in a terrible car accident, that it threatens to crush her, although by all outward appearances she seems fine – or at least she thinks she does. She has to hold it together – her father depends on her to help care for her baby brother, Michael, who has special needs. Officially diagnosed with severe regressive autism, he remains a mystery to his grieving father and sister, as well as the parade of therapists who make their way in and out of the family’s apartment. Neither Marin nor her father really believe that Michael is autistic, however – his regression occurred suddenly and quickly, and almost immediately after his mother’s untimely death. There must be a connection to her death . . . if they can only figure it out, they can bring Michael back, or so they wish.
However well Marin believes she is holding it together, a school counselor seeks her out nonetheless, and Marin finds herself part of a group of misfit kids, each with his or her own problems which they are having trouble coping with. Skittish and resentful of the group at first, Marin eventually finds kindred souls and comes to the realization that as much as she is suffering, everyone else suffers, as well. This realization begins to help her heal from the grief of losing her mother.
Meanwhile, the lucid dreams she has when she sleeps have always been a sanctuary for her, but suddenly her dreams have taken on a sinister air. Still, if only she can understand what these dreams mean, she believes she might find the key to unlocking the mystery of her baby brother.
While this isn’t a genre I typically read, I did enjoy it and definitely see the appeal for the teen crowd. Naranjo is a talented writer and spins a vivid story that speaks well to her intended audience.